10 Reason We Can Be Thankful for God's Discipline
When we are disciplined by Jesus, we are being treated as sons and daughters. Have you experienced difficult times of discipline from the Lord? I have, and I have seen Scripture bear true in my circumstances:
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).
Discipline is painful. But the fruits of discipline are sure. As one who has been there, let me share with you ten ways to be thankful for the good fruits of God’s discipline.
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1. You Know That Jesus Is in Charge
When we are disciplined, we know that Jesus takes the reigns from us and determines our circumstances. We know that He is in charge, and we follow. We were not made to bear the responsibility for our futures or for circumstances beyond our control. Often, we reach out to take charge of areas that are not ours to handle. When we are disciplined, Jesus peels our hands off the places where He alone leads and guides.
2. You Are Opened to Spiritual Realities
When we are disciplined, our eyes are opened. We know on a deeper level than ever before that Jesus is real, that He is really working in our lives, and that there are spiritual forces that want us to fail. We come to be grateful for who we follow and all of the evil we have been saved from because of the strong arm of Jesus taking hold of us. We contend with spiritual realities, and what we place our faith in matters a great deal. When we are disciplined, we put our trust more squarely on Jesus.
3. You Live Out the Truth of the Scriptures
Scripture foretells that when we are being disciplined by God, we are being treated as sons and daughters (Hebrews 12:7). We can be encouraged that when God is taking us in hand, it is because He has great love for us. He knows what we need and how we need to change. Oftentimes, discipline brings forth such great fruit that years without discipline would not have brought. We see ourselves in Scripture when we are being disciplined — His sons and daughters.
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4. You Grow from Character Being Formed
The growth that discipline brings may be painful at the time, but that pain is bringing forth righteous character. Character can be forged in painful, difficult circumstances. We learn who we are when we are being disciplined, and we see who we want to become. God changes our mind, our behavior, or our attitudes to be more reflective of the character of Jesus. We can be thankful for the holy character that comes from discipline, knowing that our progress will have holy impact upon our eternities with Him.
5. You Learn How to Pray on Your Knees
Discipline can be hard to endure, but it is often true that pain brings forth a bounteous prayer life. We need help, we need spiritual sustenance, we need perspective, we need direction, and we need to be sobered. Discipline can lead us to Jesus on our very knees. We can come humbly crawling to Him. And we find out, in our experience, the reality that God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). Our prayer lives take on an importance to us like never before.
6. You Come to Be Thankful for a Relationship with Jesus
When we are being disciplined by Jesus, we need Him — the Person. We need to know that there are listening ears on the other end of our prayers, that our circumstances are in the hands of a wonderful Person, that our hope is being places in eternal arms, and that we can improve because we have a Spirit of power within us. We come to be so thankful that Christianity is about relating with the Person of Jesus, who has saved us from eternity without Him at the cost of His own blood. We lean on Him in a more intimate way when we are enduring painful discipline.
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7. You Come into Deeper Fellowship with Jesus
Leaning on Jesus afresh or anew means we come into deeper fellowship with Him. What matters to Him begins to matter to us like never before. The Scriptures are seen with new eyes. We begin to care more about not merely our lives, but about what Jesus is doing in His creation — what His master plan is for this world. We come to see that the whole of Scripture is applicable to our lives because what God has already done in His world matters to us. We become better and better friends with Jesus when we are enduring His discipline, and after we have endured it.
8. You Know That Jesus Loves You
Especially when we come out of discipline, we can look back and trace the hand of Jesus’ love for us. We can see the lessons that we learned, the fruit that came into our lives, and the ways Jesus spared us even deeper suffering. We can sometimes see His perfect hand — that He only afflicted us with exactly what was needed. Other times, His ways are a mystery, but we know that His work produced good results. We know, as a result, that Jesus loves us more than we can fathom. We are blessed sons and daughters of God.
9. You Learn That Jesus Is Faithful to You
When we see the fruit in our lives that the painful discipline wrought, we can come to be amazed that this fruit was not present in our lives before the discipline and God had a relationship with us even then. That has happened to me — the lessons I have learned in suffering were of such a spiritually essential nature that I marvel God related with me before I knew what I since learned. How faithful is Jesus! How kind to stay by our side when we are weak and small in the faith. And how kind of Him to grow us.
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10. You Learn Truth from Error
Because we have been awakened to new fruit and new spiritual realities, our discernment grows through discipline. We have more of a taste for the things of God, and we can spot when there is error more readily. When we become attuned to Jesus’ ways and Person, we can recognize what does not correspond with who He is and the truths that He has been painstakingly teaching us.
Discipline is not pleasant; I cannot deny what the Scriptures say. But we can be thankful for it nonetheless. We can come out of times of discipline with gratitude and inward rejoicing because we have been changed, we have grown, we have been brought to repentance, we have been taught, we have been formed, and we have come to identify ourselves with Christ all the more deeply. We live as Christians in terms of spiritual realities, and we are wise to be thankful for the ways that our spirits can draw near to Jesus, even if it means suffering times when we are being disciplined by God as His own sons and daughters.
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Lianna Davis is author of Keeping the Faith: A Study in Jude and Made for a Different Land: Eternal Hope for Baby Loss. She and her husband, Tyler, live outside of Dallas, Texas and have two dear daughters.